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Evolution to Revolution

11 years with new Chief Customer Officer Faiza Hughell—in under five minutes.

Ring Central Blog

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4 min read

Highlights:

Talking with RingCentral’s new Chief Customer Officer can be a little like drinking from a firehose. A lot of information comes at you, at high velocity. But if you want to get re-energized about RingCentral or your role within it, spend five minutes with Faiza. You’ll be ready to take on the world. 

Where we’ve been

“I like to divide my career into three phases” says Hughell. “The first was the journey to IPO, which started  in 2010. I had eight US reps reporting to me and we were just throwing things at the wall to see what would stick. It was a lot of testing, but we hit our stride. At the time we were  $23 million in revenue, and by 2013, we were ringing that (New York Stock Exchange) bell. I loved the experience with all my heart.  But I also thought, “Man, I’ve never worked so hard in my life.”  

Spoiler alert: Faiza was about to revise that statement.

“The second phase was setting a goal of 500% growth in five years. Well, guess what? That  turned out to be the hardest five years of my career. It was like pushing a giant boulder up an even bigger mountain. But the good part was that I wasn’t alone. The truly stellar people I was fortunate enough to work with made the hard work a lot easier and it was incredibly rewarding. We did hit that 500% growth number, and we were back on Wall Street, ringing that bell again. The Chairman of the New York Stock Exchange was up on the podium saying that only two companies had  pulled that off – us and Facebook. That was amazing company to be in, and I was really privileged and honored to be a part of it. So I thought, it has to get easier from here, right?” 

LOL, no.

“In 2018-2019, I was asked to help get our SMB (Small-to-Medium Business) vertical back on the map and (CEO Vlad Shmunis) asked me a question that not many CEOs ask, which was “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I loved that he knew that I wasn’t there yet. In my mind, I was just starting. I told him I wanted to be a CEO, and he said, “OK, I’m going to make you the CEO of SMB, and so we put together this plan and this path to where Faiza was going to lead the team in full go-to-market mode. It has definitely been the best learning experience of my career and a time when I really came into my own as a more senior leader. I learned a lot about what I lacked.”

Wait, what? Did she just say “lacked?”

“There were a lot of moments of reflection and pause for me. I thought I knew so much, but there’s so much I still didn’t know. And so I eagerly went in with the mentality of a constant learner – from account executives who just started at RingCentral to the executive who has been with the company for 12 years. Learning from my peers and leaders was phase three. SMB went from about 3% to 19% growth in the first year and exceeded 20% the following year. We got ourselves back on the map— getting mentioned in earnings calls again, and at that point, I got to really start having a lot of fun with our customers again, which is something I absolutely love doing.”

Flipping the script

“I love generating revenue. I’ve been doing it for 27 years. But it’s time to change the narrative. Companies are so traditionally focused on growth and revenue and I started wondering, can we change our focus to be more customer-centric? When we shift our focus to  providing the best outcomes for our clients, the rewards will naturally follow. So about four years ago I started embarking upon that path. Over the last couple of years, my focus has been on  customer-centric selling and on helping my team understand the importance of that concept. Now, I am so thankful to be where I am — with an opportunity to shine the spotlight on what truly matters, our customers. ”

Mama’s got a brand new B-HAG.

“I always have a B-HAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal). I want to turn our customer base into the most viral engine anyone’s ever seen. I’ve always believed that you can get no better endorsement than one from a customer. We have so many good, powerful stories to tell. For example, we helped a humanitarian aid organization save 35% on their tech stack – think about the good that money has the power to do! So I’m back in that constant learner-mode, going through every role within my department, every job, and finding out how to remove the roadblocks to that B-HAG. Sure, we could spend $200 million on a brand campaign,  we could also  start with the power of 7,000 RingCentral employees, hundreds of thousands of customers, and millions of users we already have. I say we do both! Leveraging their stories and experiences is invaluable and something we have the opportunity to do here. THAT is  my North Star—using our customer and employee base to amplify the good we do. It’s going to take a lot of work, but I’m ready.”

Bringing it home. 

“Mentorship has been crucial for me, and I know how important it will be to everyone I work with going forward. We’re all Constant Learners. I’m going back to basics, and I don’t want anyone to think Faiza is going to come in with a magic wand and just fix things because I’m still being mentored, by everyone I work for, and with. There’s going to be a lot of inflight repairs as we learn, break, and fix things. Most importantly I have learned that there is so much going right with this new team and the impact we make and I plan to highlight that,  giving them their due credit.  There’s a lot in this new role, this new mission that seems like apples and oranges right now, but hey, it’s all fruit.”

#HelloToPossibilities

Originally published Oct 21, 2021

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